Skip to main content

Beautiful emission nebula is 100 light-years wide and shaped like a seagull

Colorful and wispy Sharpless 2-296 forms the “wings” of an area of the sky known as the Seagull Nebula — named for its resemblance to a gull in flight. This celestial bird contains a fascinating mix of intriguing astronomical objects. Glowing clouds weave amid dark dust lanes and bright stars. The Seagull Nebula — made up of dust, hydrogen, helium, and traces of heavier elements — is the hot and energetic birthplace of new stars. ESO/VPHAS+ team/N.J. Wright (Keele University)

This stunning image shows the Seagull Nebula, so named because its shape suggests a bird with wings spreading out across space. It is located 3,700 light-years away from us, in a distant arm of the Milky Way. It sits between the constellations of Canis Major (The Great Dog) and Monoceros (The Unicorn). The nebula is massive, spanning 100 light-years across, and it was recently shown off in this image captured by the European Southern Observatory’s VLT Survey Telescope.

The Seagull is a type of nebula called an emission nebula, meaning it is made of ionized gases which are ionized primarily by light emitted by a nearby star. Emission nebulae are frequently very beautiful, being targets of some of the most famous Hubble images such as NGC 2174. This particular nebula is a subtype of emission nebulae called an H II region, which is ionized hydrogen gas where stars have recently formed. In the image above you can see the newly born stars across the nebula, glowing brightly.

The new stars give off radiation which ionizes the dust and makes it glow, giving the nebula its beautiful colors. The same radiation causes the clouds to be shaped in particular ways, with the dust being pushed and sculpted into elaborate shapes. Due to the shape of this nebula, scientists believe it is composed of a number of different clouds which met and formed into the bird-like structure.

The nebula is constructed of three primary clouds of gas, including Sharpless 2-296, which forms the “wings” of the Seagull. There is also Sharpless 2-292, the smaller cloud below the wings which forms the “head.” And there is Sharpless 2-297, a small knot of cloud which appears at the top of the tip of the “wing.” They are named Sharpless after the Sharpless Catalogue which lists them, a collection of emission nebula which was compiled in the 1950s by astronomer Stuart Sharpless.

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more
The 11 best Father’s Day deals that you can get for Sunday
Data from a workout showing on the screen of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Father's Day is fast approaching and there's still time to buy your beloved Dad a sweet new device to show him how much you love him. That's why we've rounded up the ten best Father's Day tech deals going on right now. There's something for most budgets here, including if you're able to spend a lot on your loved one. Read on while we take you through the highlights and remember to order fast so you don't miss out on the big day.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 -- $200, was $230

While it's the Plus version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 that features in our look at the best tablets, the standard variety is still worth checking out. Saving your Dad the need to dig out their laptop or squint at a small phone screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 offers a large 10.5-inch LCD display and all the useful features you would expect. 128GB of storage means plenty of room for all your Dad's favorite apps as well as games too. A long-lasting battery and fast charging save him the need for a power source too often too.

Read more